MA/PGDip Heritage Studies

Year of entry: 2024


Degree awarded
MA: 1 yr (FT); 2 yr (PT). PGDip: 9m (FT), 18m (PT)
Entry requirements

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Course overview

  • Explore emerging critical approaches and shifts in heritage studies practice and theory.
  • Develop your skills in and knowledge of heritage policy, management, conservation, learning, engagement and enterprise.
  • Undertake a work placement in a heritage site, museum, gallery or related cultural organisation in or around Manchester.
  • Have the opportunity to design and take part in live projects with heritage and community organisations in Manchester.
Discover Heritage Studies at The University of Manchester

Open days

Find out what it's like to study at Manchester by visiting us on one of our open days .


Fees for entry in 2024 have not yet been set. For reference, the fees for the academic year beginning September 2023 were as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £12,000
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £26,000
  • MA (part-time)
    UK students (per annum): £6,000
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £11,750
  • PGDip (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £8,000
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £17,333
  • PGDip (part-time)
    UK students (per annum): £4,000
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £8,666

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).


Each year the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures offer a number of School awards and Subject-specific bursaries (the values of which are usually set at Home/EU fees level), open to both Home/EU and international students. The deadline for these is early February each year. Details of all funding opportunities, including deadlines, eligibility and how to apply, can be found on the School's funding page  where you can also find details of the Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme.

See also the University's postgraduate funding database  to see if you are eligible for any other funding opportunities.

For University of Manchester graduates, the Manchester Alumni Bursary offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a First within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

The Manchester Master's Bursary is a University-wide scheme that offers 100 bursaries worth £3,000 in funding for students from underrepresented groups.

Postgraduate 1+3 funding is available from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for students to pursue postgraduate study through a master's (one year) leading into a PhD (3 years). It requires a project proposal as part of the application. Information is available here:

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

English language

An overall grade of 7.0 in IELTS with 7.0 in writing an no skill below 6.5 is required or 100+ in the TOEFL iBT with a minimum writing score of 25 and no skill below 22.

If you have obtained a different qualification, please check our  English language requirements  to ensure that it is accepted and equivalent to the above requirements.

Exceptions to needing a language test (if English is NOT your first language) are if you have successfully completed an academic qualification deemed by UK NARIC as equivalent to at least a UK bachelor's degree or higher from one of the following countries:

  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UK
  • USA.

Please contact  if you are unsure if you have taken what The University of Manchester considers to be a Standard English Language Test.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Relevant work experience

In the personal statement section of the application form, you can outline any work experience (including voluntary work) you have in a museum, gallery, or other related institution.

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

You should include a personal statement (no more than 500 words) that demonstrates your understanding of the subject and your motivation for wanting to study the programme.

If your academic background is not directly related to the programme, you should supply an academic-standard writing sample on a subject related to the programme.

If English is not your native language, then you should provide an academic-standard writing sample in English directly related to the subject.

For more advice on the application process, please visit our  Applying  page.

How your application is considered

Applications are mainly considered on the basis of an assessment of past and predicted academic achievements, the academic reference(s) and any other supplementary evidence that supports the application. Once we have an application that is ready for a decision, the admissions tutor (often the Programme Director) will relay the decision to the admissions team, who will send you this decision.

Please note that your application is usually received by the School 24 to 48 hours after the time you submit it. If you have not provided documentation that allows the admissions tutor to make a decision, we will contact you.

Skills, knowledge, abilities, interests

Applicants will be considered on the basis of demonstrable experience and understanding of work in a heritage setting, organisation or other relevant context, presented through personal statement, CV or in interview.

Overseas (non-UK) applicants

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries that equate to a UK Upper Second (2:1).

For these and general requirements, including English language, see  entry requirements from your country .


Applicants may defer entry for 12 months provided they contact  before 1 September. Please note that applicants are subject to the fees for the entry year they will start the course.

Course details

Course description

Our MA Heritage Studies master's course is aimed at students who want to develop their knowledge and practical skills to pursue or develop careers in heritage policy, management, conservation, learning, engagement and enterprise.

Heritage Studies examines the theory and practice of heritage making, management and use in local, national and international contexts. It includes both the practical aspects of conservation and management and a study of social, political and economic dynamics in cultural, archaeological, built and natural heritage.

You will study comprehensive core units on critical heritage studies and key issues and approaches to heritage policy and management, as well as routes into specialisation and professional practice through a wide range of units covering distinctive topic areas such as:

  • digital heritage;
  • curating and engagement;
  • decolonising museums and heritage;
  • heritage and sustainable development;
  • intangible cultural heritage and natural heritage;
  • creative learning;
  • heritage and learning;
  • strategic planning and management of heritage projects and enterprises.

You will be able to gain intensive work experience and undertake critical reflective practice within a range of heritage organisations across the region and further afield through our long-standing placement scheme.

This scheme is shared with our sister master's courses in Arts Management, Policy and Practice and Art Gallery and Museum Studies. You can also undertake live project work with students on these sister courses by choosing practice-based course units.

You will benefit from the expertise of the Institute for Cultural Practices  and other specialists in archaeology, art history and history at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

You will also have access to the University's cultural heritage assets  such as Manchester Museum, the John Rylands Library and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.

You can choose from full-time and part-time study options for an MA or PGDip award, as well as standalone course units to support continuing professional development.


We aim to:

  • introduce, explore and critically evaluate emerging  approaches, issues and trends in the theories and practices of world-wide heritage policy, management, conservation, learning, engagement and enterprise;
  • prepare you for advanced critical research through skills training and reflective practice;
  • promote and advance specialist knowledge of theoretical perspectives and frameworks for understanding of heritage in a global context and related issues of policy and practice;
  • give you the opportunity to undertake expert practical training in core and specialist areas relevant to professional and sector development;
  • help you access and engage with industry professionals and opportunities for work experience in a range of heritage settings, through guest lectures, fieldtrips and placements.

Special features

MA Heritage Studies

"Everything that seemed abstract and less meaningful in lectures suddenly proved to be everyday matters to deal with in the art gallery.

"The content of those past lectures become more and more clear throughout the work, and I felt confident in my professional knowledge, which I never felt before taking the course."

Yung Wan / MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies student (placement at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art)

Work placements  

You will be able to gain experience in practice through a work placement  that you undertake in a heritage site and/or organisation.

Each placement involves a minimum of 20 days' work on a specific project, such as community learning and engagement, visitor management, volunteer coordination, research and evaluation, conservation and business development projects.

Many students find this to be such a positive experience that they carry on working in their organisation when the work placement has finished, and a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts each year.

Read blog posts from our students  about the work placements they have undertaken on our master's courses.  

Project experience 

During the MA, students have opportunities to design and participate in live projects with heritage organisations and contexts in Manchester.

These include researching heritage audiences, developing exhibitions, producing heritage events, and working on community engagement and creative collaborative projects. Discover our student's exhibitions and initiatives  that they have created whilst studying with the Institute for Cultural Practices.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning on this course goes beyond the classroom. You will learn through fieldwork trips, site visits, masterclasses and workshops, with networking and specialist training provided through our engagement with visitor speakers, including professionals and academics in the field.

Most teaching takes place in small interactive seminar groups, involving, as appropriate, directed-reading, fieldwork in museums and heritage sites and contexts, staff and student presentations, discussion, debate, problem-solving and group work.

Most units run for a day or week over 12 weeks, and there are variations in the number of class hours per teaching day depending on the course/week (ie 2-5 hours).

As a general rule, a 30-credit unit includes 300 learning hours, which can be roughly divided as follows:

  • a third in classes or class-related work;
  • a third in independent study;
  • a third in preparation of assignments.

You can also undertake an exhibition group project (as part of the Professional Practice Project unit) in collaboration with a museum, heritage or related cultural organisation in Manchester or the north-west of England.

Supervision for dissertation research is supported by staff with a wide range of interests, and by research skills training.

Full-time or part-time study?

The MA is available as a one-year full-time or a two-year part-time course. The PGDip is available as a nine-month full-time or 18-month part-time course.

We particularly welcome part-time students, as there are many advantages in combining study with work practice, whether you already have a post in a heritage organisation or are just setting out on your career.

Each year, a number of mid-career professionals take the MA degree on a part-time basis and find that the University provides a valuable space for reflection, as well as for further learning.

Part-time students have classes one day per week (usually Tuesday or Thursday, although in Semester 2 it might be a different day depending on the option course you choose). This will be in addition to weekly twilight research, professional practice and academic skills workshops.

You should also count time for library work/fieldwork that may require you to come to Manchester and, although this can be sometimes done on the day of teaching, there may be the need to come in for further directed learning or training.

When the work placements begin (about November/December in Year 1 or Year 2) you should also count one more day/week (on average) at the work placement institution, which, if appropriate or relevant, can be the organisation where you currently work (but undertaking a project different to your day-to-day work).

Coursework and assessment

Introduction to Critical Heritage Studies (Semester 1 core unit, 30 credits)

This unit is assessed by: 

  • a 6,000-word essay (100% of the overall course mark).  

Heritage Policy and Management (Semester 1 core unit, 30 credits)

This unit is assessed by:

  • a 6,000-word individual Fieldwork Portfolio of site-specific analysis (100% of the overall course mark)  

Option units (Semester 2, 15 or 30 credits)

Option units are assessed by a combination of essays and project portfolios. For details, please see the individual unit page.

Dissertation (Semester 2 and Summer)  

This can be either a 12,000 to 15,000-word standard dissertation or a practice-based dissertation (8,000-10,000 words and appropriate evidence/outputs of the practice).

Course unit details

Semester 1

All students take the following 30-credit compulsory core units to gain a critical overview of topics and issues relevant to the learning outcomes and aims of this course.

  • Introduction to Critical Heritage Studies (30 credits) - This unit provides a comprehensive interdisciplinary survey of key theories and concepts of heritage studies through weekly lectures, seminars and study visits, as well as study and practical skills training in literature review and heritage interpretation.
  • Heritage Policy and Management (30 credits) - This unit presents the processes and practices of policy making and heritage management, introducing you to a range of contexts through group fieldwork, critical enquiry, case studies and visiting lectures.

Semester 2

Optional units will build on the knowledge and understanding you have gained in Semester 1, and enable you to develop expertise in a particular disciplinary area. You can choose 60 credits of options course units.

The work placement option begins during Semester 1 with 15 and 30-credit versions to support student choice from a range of practical and specialist interests.

Options courses include (subject to availability):

  • Intangible Cultural Heritage (15 credits)
  • Heritage, Museums and Conflict (15 credits)
  • Decolonising the Museum (15 credits)
  • Curating Art (15 credits)
  • Producing Digital Projects (15 credits)
  • Work Placement (15 or 30 credits)

There is also the potential to take an additional course unit (maximum 15 credits) delivered in partnership with other relevant subject areas, subject to availability and approval. For example:

  • Producing and Consuming Heritage (15 credits)
  • From Cottonopolis to Metropolis: Manchester Communities and Institutions (15 credits)
  • Public History: Historians and the Public Sphere (15 credits)
  • Filming History: Making Documentary Films for Research (15 credits)


MA students only will undertake a 60-credit dissertation of 15,000 words. Those undertaking a practice-based dissertation will submit 8,000-10,000 words plus project documentation.

Part-time and PGDip study

Part-time MA and PGDip students take 60 credits per year, and can undertake work placements in either year.

Dissertation research for part-time MA students can be submitted up to 27 months after beginning the course.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation SALC60090 60 Mandatory
Introduction to Critical Heritage Studies SALC60281 30 Mandatory
Heritage Policy and Management SALC60291 30 Mandatory
Art of Medieval Manuscripts AHCP61642 30 Optional
Heritage, Museums & Conflict CAHE60462 15 Optional
Creative Learning SALC60052 30 Optional
Business Strategies for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries SALC60072 30 Optional
Decolonise the Museum! SALC60242 15 Optional
Intangible Cultural Heritage SALC60302 15 Optional
The Arts & International Cultural Relations SALC60312 15 Optional
The Arts & International Cultural Relations SALC60332 30 Optional
Global, Cultural and Creative Industries SALC60402 15 Optional
Creative Learning SALC60502 15 Optional
Business Strategies for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries SALC60702 15 Optional
Curating Art SALC60802 15 Optional
Curating Art SALC60882 30 Optional
Digital Heritage SALC60902 15 Optional
Intangible Cultural Heritage SALC61302 30 Optional
Global, Cultural and Creative Industries SALC61402 30 Optional
Creative Producing SALC61812 30 Optional
Producing Digital Projects SALC61922 30 Optional
Decolonise the Museum! SALC62242 30 Optional
Creative Producing SALC68812 15 Optional
Producing Digital Projects SALC68922 15 Optional
Placement SALC70300 30 Optional
Displaying 10 of 25 course units

Course collaborators

This course has been designed in close consultation with heritage professionals and external partners working in the field of heritage management and policy.

What our students say


You will have access to the Graduate School at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, as well as to library resources and training facilities across the University.

You will also be able to access the Institute for Cultural Practices' resources room and study suite.

Visit the Facilities page for more information.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:


Career opportunities

Progression opportunities include work in heritage policy and management roles for national and international organisations, such as the Heritage Lottery, Historic England, the National Trust, and UNESCO. 

Other roles within museums and heritage organisations include fundraising and development, research and consultancy, visitor service management, community learning and engagement, collections management and site management. 

Find out more on the ICP Careers and employability  page and the experience of our MA Heritage study alumni .

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service  that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Manchester you will have access to a number of opportunities to help boost your employability .